Design visionary to present futuristic 'building for today' at Abu Dhabi World Future Energy Summit
- United Arab Emirates: Sunday, January 06 - 2008 at 11:18
- PRESS RELEASE
A conceptual design for a skyscraper that can do "everything a tree can do except replicate" will be one of the highlights of the inaugural World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi next month.
"We're really excited," said McDonough in an interview, "because everyone in the building world that has seen it has said 'can we do this together?' So we are now looking for a patron to help us bring this to reality."
"Fortune magazine realised that its' reading public - which includes a lot of business executives - was very interested in the future of high-rise office buildings. So they asked us to speculate on 'the building of the future'.
"What we came up with was 'a building for the present', something possible today that embodies the idea of a building like a tree - a building that receives its energy from the sun, that grows food, that builds soil, that provides a habitat for hundreds of species, that changes colours with the seasons, that creates micro-climates, that would purify water. A building that would do just about everything a tree can do except self-replicate."
McDonough will discuss his team's ideas—about the office tower of the future and other projects, all driven by the Cradle to CradleSM thinking that he and Michael Braungart outline in their 2002 book of the same name—in a keynote speech on the first morning of the World Future Energy Summit (WFES), which takes place in Abu Dhabi from 21-23 of January. He will be joined in Abu Dhabi by other prominent architects inspired by the vision behind the summit.
"With so much expansion in the region and a growing commitment to a green agenda, Abu Dhabi is the ideal host for this summit" says participant Christopher Choa, the prize-winning architect, urban designer and author who is a Principal with EDAW, an international practice focusing on planning, economics, and design. "Global energy demand is a huge issue, and innovative design of cities is the key way forward."
Following on the heels of this month's UN climate change conference in Bali, the WFES conference and related exhibition will explore practical and pragmatic strategies and technologies that the world urgently needs to mitigate the threat of global warming.
In the spirit of international co-operation so evident in Bali, senior executives from oil and gas majors like will be rubbing shoulders and sharing the podium with leaders of environmental NGOs - a gathering that would have been hard to envisage even a decade ago. The list of speakers includes: BP's Vivienne Cox; Total's Phillipe Boisseau; Samuel Bodman, US Secretary of Energy, Greenpeace CEO Dr. Gerd Liepold; and Jonathan Porritt, founder of the Forum for the Future.
Full details of the executives, ministers and dignitaries speaking at the event - who include the presidents of Iceland, Maldives and Djibouti, and energy ministers from the UK, Algeria, Morocco, United Arab Emirates and state secretaries from Germany and the Netherlands and members of the British Royal Family - can be found on the WFES website at www.wfes08.com.
The inaugural World Future Energy Summit comes at a time of fast-growing awareness that climate change has become a grave threat to the well-being of humankind. This year in particular has been a turning point, with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stating that global warming is "unequivocal" and highly likely to be caused by human activities.
The World Future Energy Summit 2008 will be held under the patronage of HH General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and will be hosted by Masdar, Abu Dhabi's multi-billion dollar, multi-faceted response to the need for a global focus on alternative energy and sustainability. Key elements of this initiative are education, research and investment in the future of energy and environmental sustainability.
The Masdar initiative has plans to create the world's first "zero-carbon, zero-waste" city and to develop a national carbon-capture and storage network. Masdar's ultimate objective is to create a new economic sector dedicated to sustainable and clean energy technologies.
The first project to be realised by the Masdar Initiative will be a new 6 million square meter sustainable development that uses the traditional planning principals of a walled city, together with existing technologies, to achieve a carbon neutral and zero waste community. Masterplanned by Lord Norman Foster's firm, Foster + Partners, the initiative, driven by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, will be a centre for the development of new ideas for energy production.
Commenting on the role of architects and construction firms in tackling climate change, McDonough said: "Around 40% of the climate change emissions and waste come from construction and buildings - so we have a crucial role to play. If we can cut the energy consumption of buildings in half, which isn't that hard to imagine, we can have an effect of 20%, a dramatic amount.
"And if we can do buildings that are energy-positive - that produce more energy than they need to operate - then we're ahead of the game."
McDonough's current design for a futuristic "skyscraper for today" is intended for a temperate, northern-hemisphere climate, but could, he said, be adapted for the desert climates of the Middle East. That is the version he intends to present in Abu Dhabi.
Commenting on the economics of "green" architecture, McDonough said: "Green buildings shouldn't be seen as something that adds cost, they should be seen as high-performance buildings - high-performance in terms of the productivity of the people that work there, in terms of energy, in terms of materials. Our buildings don't cost much more than normal buildings but they out-perform them."
McDonough believes that the sector is poised for "explosive growth".
"The design professions haven't been trained in this way of designing - so it's taken a while for them to catch up with these kinds of strategies. But they're catching up fast. Pretty soon, you won't be able to hire a high-quality design firm without it taking this approach."
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